LĪHU’E – According to a report released by the Office of Economic Development (OED), Kaua’i’s economic activity will likely remain flat in the coming months with a few exceptions.

The Quarterly Economic Outlook contains statistical data and economic forecast information specific to Kaua‘i, and is prepared by Island Matters LLC on a quarterly basis as part of an annual contract with OED.

“The good news is that the visitor industry is continuing its steady trend upward,” said OED Director George Costa. “In terms of visitor expenditures, a huge increase of $30 million was reported in December 2011 alone compared to December 2010, which resulted in an overall fourth quarter average expenditures topping 2010 by $14 million.”

Per person per day spending also rose 3.7 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011, and will likely continue its upward trend.

The average daily visitor count in the fourth quarter of 2011 was 20,445 and is expected to be 23,900 in the first quarter of 2012. This represents a 15 percent increase over the same period last year.

Also trending upwards is the average visitor’s length-of-stay, which was 7.6 days in the fourth quarter of 2011.

“The flattening trend in electricity demand is also potentially good news,” said Costa. “After a modest uptick in demand early in 2011, the first quarter of this year saw a 12 percent reduction in demand likely due to increases in oil and gasoline prices.”

Ken Stokes, an economist with the research firm Island Matters, LLC who compiled the data in the OED quarterly report said, “With the exception of the visitor component, there are few signs that the mostly flat trends we are seeing will rebound in the quarters ahead.”

He noted that the total job count in the fourth quarter of 2011 was 27,100 down 500 from the same period in 2010, and may drop an additional 400 jobs in the first quarter of this year.

“The job count is one of four key indicators that have settled back to about the same levels they were in 2003,” said Stokes. “The others are income, spending, and electricity purchases. All four indicators are well below the boom years of 2006-2007.”

The quarterly report shows that home sales and building permits are still trending down, although inflation-adjusted sales had a slight increase in the fourth quarter of 2011, and should hold steady through the second quarter of this year.

Also included in the report is data on construction activity, which inched backed up in the fourth quarter, but is projected to decrease slightly through the second quarter of this year.

For complete details of the Quarterly Economic Outlook, please go to:

http://www.kauai.gov/Government/Departments/EconomicDevelopment/EconomicStatisticsandForecasting/tabid/256/Default.aspx.

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